Mrs. Heathcliff: The Mischievous Woman

When we are first introduced to the master of Wuthering Heights and its residents, Mrs. Heathcliff (Cathy Linton) attracts the attention of Mr. Lockwood who initially mistakes her for Heathcliff’s wife, but later learns that she is the widow of Heathcliff’s son. Cathy’s behaviour in the beginning of the novel reminds me of a passage by Margret Fuller in George Eliot’s “Women in the Nineteenth Century” essay which states that when women are forbidden to enter the same spheres as men in regards to occupation because, “‘such things are not proper for girls,’ they grow sullen and mischievous.” In the interactions Lockwood observes Cathy in, first with Joseph and then with Heathcliff, he takes notice of her formidable character and fierce tongue. In her interaction with Joseph, who criticises her for her relation to Catherine Earnshaw and shames her for not being entirely lady like, her first impulse is to admit her connection to Catherine as a means which makes her a powerful woman, which is something typically frowned upon of in this period. In her interaction with Heathcliff, we see her instinct to defend herself with a witty, and often snide remark which Lockwood describes as “cat-dog combat.” Cathy has her mother’s fiery spirit, and while she has indeed grown sullen under Heathcliff’s harsh reign, she has also grown stronger and more mischievous than she ever was because the innocent Cathy Linton would not have survived a single day in the Heathcliff household. 

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